An Open Letter to My New Neighbors

Fellow Tenants:

I like it here. Despite the See You Next Tuesday I don’t even share walls or a hall with who told the police she smells weed coming from my apartment, I like it. (As an aside, I wish I knew what word she used. Was it “reefer?” Please baby Jesus let it have been that. I suspect it was plain old “marijuana,” but Chicagoans can nasal that word up good enough to make it fun too. This makes me think, though, of the time Old Best Friend kicked her feet up on her mother’s dining room table and declared, “There’s nothing wrong with blowing a little grass, Mom.” It was like The Universe whispered a dare into her mind to do it, and she rose like a maniacal champion to the challenge. So much of why I loved her.)

I like how this place feels, and I want to stay a while. My son can run here (we just left a second floor apartment where I not only had to ask/tell All Children Who Entered to be  Calm, Quiet Things, but in order for them to go outside to play, an adult had to be willing to stop what they were doing and go with them the whole time because distance and traffic demanded it). Imagine how much we both love the giant first-floor windows that let him play in the courtyard on his own or with friends while I watch from a couch or table.

Once I had most of my stuff here, I knocked on all of your doors—the ones across and above, whose entryways and stairs connect with/are mine too—so I could introduce myself and deliver the following awkward address:

 

Hi, I’m your new neighbor. I just moved in with my son. He’s four and energetic, so if we’re ever too noisy, please let me know. Also, if I park in the wrong spot, or if my boyfriend needs to move his car for you, please just knock and tell us. He sleeps over sometimes. Additionally, this is my medical cannabis card. Please please please tell me if the smoke is coming through a vent or in the hall so I can adjust something in my place to prevent that.

 

I only got to say it to one of you, a gentleman above me who mostly made no words and stared at me while I just kept talking. No one else answered.

Since then, I’ve been burning incense, lighting candles, white saging the shit out of my living room and kitchen (the two rooms with doors going to our shared halls) every time I smoke, and I even was using an eighth-grade-dryer-sheet blow tube to try to reduce the smell. (No joke. I tried to get friends to do it too. No bueno. No dice except for a few uncomfortable sessions in my bedroom.)

Although I still desire to be a Good Neighbor (and I really do—I have OVERWHELMING LOVE for other humans. It’s probably part of my mental illness—which is why I have the card that made the police not give a damn that someone/anyone/everyone smells weed coming from my apartment—to love like that. My instinct is to nestle into the soul of every person I meet, and I try to bring you all inside me. I totally want to be a nice person to live next door to.), I won’t be jumping through any more incense-hoops to spare your sensibilities or your noses.

Because cannabis is my medicine. One of them. And it’s as legal, less risky, and more effective for anxiety-ridden-addict-brained-artsy-creative-types like me who might accidentally or intentionally die from Other Things Doctors Give Out For Kickbacks. (It’s great, too, for cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers, and anyone who wants it, because New World Order, bitc— I mean, it’s real medicine. And it works. It has a long history of working, and our country’s nasty, racist laws have prevented our scientists from doing real research into modern benefits and methods of terpene extraction for way too long.) And after cartwheeling courtesy at you, it stung (despite the dark humor)  when I thought I was dying and called 911 and one of you took time out of your day to tell the police officer that you smelled weed.

So by all means, let me know if Boyfriend or I have parked in the wrong place. Please tell me when my kid and his friends are being too loud (they will be—I promise—because they’re an awesome troop of bandits with loud voices and big hearts. They have dance parties and play hide-and-seek. Sometimes I let them play my synthesizer.). But I’m not going broke on room spray or candles so I can take my medicine.

 

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12/6/18

Grace is waking up as late as your dizzy, dizzy head needs to and knowing that a stream of angels will pass through today, that your bar manager is getting your day covered for tomorrow so you can move out of your apartment on time. It’s relocating your three customers on yesterday’s shift (favorites all–trusted–five years ago you lied and said you were a niece to one [you and another bartender who has resurfaced too] so you could visit him in the ER after he fell off his bar stool) to the far side of the bar so you could share the small space heater on the counter away from the doors. Love is when one sunbeam fought through the awful December sky and landed all over you and you caught one of them seeing you bask in it without any objectification fucking up the warmth.
 
This is what it looks like when your circle knows you’re tired. They carry you.
 
Your mother packed your boxes while you practiced the tease with Old Man _____ at the bar. Sometimes you held his hands on the counter. He’s a kind old man who hugs you and tells you to be careful when he leaves always. He’s the one who fell all those years ago. This, too, is love and grace.
 
You spent as much in the jukebox as you made in tips, but you made it through and home. That’s what counts on those days.
 
Today is different. Better and just starting. I could die this afternoon, but I probably won’t. The fact that I can even type that out means I’m wandering out into thinner trees. My Tribe will come like they said they would, and somehow this will get done.

The Green Current (Pritzker and Weed)

Midterm elections are over. Blue Waves, Red Tsunamis–whatever they were or wanted to be–saturated pre-Tuesday headlines, but the Green Current of medical and recreational cannabis floated to the top of a few states’ polls. This Forbes story gives a nice surface view of the big wins, from municipal decriminalization in Ohio towns to Michigan going recreational statewide.

Here in Illinois, we elected a new governor: J.B. Pritzker. I have a J.B. story. It goes like this:

I stood behind J.B. Pritzker at a rally for higher education funding in Springfield one time. I didn’t know who he was, but he seemed pretty all right. Then he won the Democratic gubernatorial primary, said he’d legalize recreational weed, and got elected.

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Soon-to-be-Governor Pritzker in Springfield, IL when I had no idea who he was until he spoke during the rally I was photographing for a university marketing gig I fail/learn a lot at. If you would like to turn him into Weed Jesus using your bad-ass Photoshop/whatever-suite-you-use-now skills for me, I will proof and edit some writing for you. Or write you a very mediocre poem on any topic you’d like.

So happy day, Illinois stoners (and cancer patients, poor people, incarcerated ones, and accidentally suicidal ex junkies–and congrats to everyone who will benefit from the cannabis industry that’s about to boom)! The headline:

Pritzker wants to legalize recreational marijuana ‘nearly right away’ in Illinois

Go to :40 and watch from there if you’re too impatient or hate Fox News a lot and feel dirty watching so you want to  get it over with fast, then read this Onion piece on Jeff Sessions.

(In a perfect world, Illinois will go legal on St. Patrick’s Day. We’ll all have a party then. Dye the river green and storm Cricket Hill on the lakefront to lay in early spring grass. Windy City Weed Fest, you were so lovely until the radio station got its hands on you. Read the second comment.)